It all started kind of accidentally. We were on our way to Mt. Baker for the Family Day long weekend back in February. On the way there Gili and I were talking about how funny it would be if Neil would try skiing. We both agreed he’s probably too young and we should wait till next year to start him skiing. Boy, were we wrong.
I guess that being originally from Israel we still don’t have the Canadian mind frame of how young kids can actually start skiing. You see, both Gili and I started skiing at age 26 (!) right after we moved to Vancouver. We figured that since the winters are long and we like being outside we should probably learn how to ski. We spent almost every weekend of our first winter in Vancouver on Cypress mountain, taking lessons, improving our turns, and challenging ourselves. Later on we got into backcountry skiing as well, a lot of it thanks to being members of the Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC), and a bit later we started cross country skiing too. Although it doesn’t come naturally to me as it would probably be for Neil I still love skiing. And even after being injured a few years ago on Mt. Baker from a snowboarder crashing into me with all his might, I still didn’t give up skiing and made a point of getting back into it the very next season.
It’s been an incredible snow year, but we joined the game a bit late, since we spent the end of December and the month of January in New Zealand enjoying a well needed summer. The weekend after we got back we went to Cypress for cross country skiing, as we figured we’d do quite a bit of cross country skiing with Neil in the trailer, like we did last year. Although he still enjoyed it and loved playing in the snow, it was not as stimulating for him. The weekend after that we went to Mt. Baker, and you can say it was all downhill from there.
While Neil and I were in the lodge when Gili was skiing, Neil started playing with a boy who looked about his age, but he was all dressed in ski gear. A quick chat with his mom confirmed that this boy had just turned two, and yes, he was indeed skiing. Well, we thought if this little boy could do it, there was no reason why Neil couldn’t try.
Neil was born and raised in Canada so I guess he had the right mind frame for it. We got alot of snow in the city this winter, so Neil was already familiar with it and he loved every snow day, especially going out with a sled. He’s quite excited to try anything new, especially if he sees us doing it, and he likes everything that moves, and more so if it moves fast. Neil proved to us again how much he is capable of and what he can achieve if he puts his mind into it, and he sure put his mind into skiing. The next day we returned to Baker and rented the shortest skis and smallest boots for Neil. I went skiing and Gili took charge. After a couple of hours as I was skiing back to the lodge I couldn’t believe my eyes. There he was, my son who had not yet turned two, skiing!
So after our successful weekend on Mt. Baker we knew that we’d have to spend some more time downhill skiing. Luckily we have three ski hills 45 minutes away from home. We managed to borrow skis and boots for Neil from friends, and a day after Neil’s second birthday we went up to Mt. Seymour. We were a bit disappointed about the pricing, as an adult who just wants to ski with a child in the magic carpet area still needs to pay $60! Seeing how much Neil enjoyed it and how much he progressed made it worth it though.
Two weeks later we went back to Seymour. It was very rainy in the city and we hoped that on Seymour it would be snowing. Alas, when we arrived to the parking lot it was raining pretty hard and I was ready to tell Gili to turn the car around and go back home. But from the back seat we heard a little voice saying: “ski, ski, ski”, so we had no choice, we had to ski in the rain. As I was skiing I thought how strange life is, before Neil was born I would never go skiing in the rain, it was one of our big no-no’s, but now because of my two year old, here I am skiing in the pouring rain and actually having a pretty good time.
Then we decided to get the spring pass for Cypress and skied there three times. The bunny hill at Cypress is pretty long, and Neil did wonderfully well, skiing with Gili with a strap and skiing by himself too with Gili catching him. He had no problem starting himself down the slope all by himself, and it doesn’t look like he fears the speed or steep slopes, nor does he mind being outside in the cold. He can go really fast now, and turn a little bit, but next year he’ll need to work more on turning and stopping.
Then April came around with surprising amounts of fresh powder and great ski conditions. We got some free tickets to Seymour and spent a wonderful afternoon there. By then Neil was already skiing by himself almost all the way down to the lift, smiling and laughing all the way. Yep, he got it.
On Easter long weekend we made the long drive to Kelowna and spent two days skiing on Big White. We found Big White to be the most kid friendly mountain we’ve been to, too bad it’s five hours away. We had amazing ski conditions, especially given it was already mid April! Every time we would spend the whole day skiing, Neil would fall asleep and take a nap on a mattress in the lodge. On our first day on Big White Neil was overly excited and didn’t fall asleep. When he went skiing with Gili again later that afternoon he fell asleep on the lift and Gili had to ski with him back to the lodge while he was sleeping. It was the last weekend that Big White would be open, and also most of the local hills. It was a bit difficult to explain to Neil that it was probably it for the season and that we’ll go skiing again next year.
All the credit for teaching Neil how to ski goes to Gili. With his great patience, courage, enthusiasm and ability to ski backwards. Neil is very lucky to have such an amazing dad. While it is lots of fun seeing Neil progress in his skiing, we also see it as a long term investment. Hopefully in a year or two we will all be able to ski together, and not just on the bunny hill.